News / Africa

African Leaders Urged to Meet With Diaspora

FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives for the opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives for the opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
James Butty

An outspoken member of the African Diaspora has called on African leaders taking part in a Washington summit to meet with them.  

Chika Onyeani, publisher and editor-in-chief of the African Sun Times newspaper and chairman of the Celebrate Africa Foundation, acknowledged he’s not speaking for the whole African Diaspora.  

But, he said it remits an estimated $70 - $80 billion each year to Africa.

Onyeani said African leaders should give the Diaspora the same respect they give to other groups.  

In July, he wrote to African leaders calling for an African Diaspora Town Hall meeting in Washington during the summit, but received no reply.  

At the same time, he said, the African leaders attending the summit have made themselves readily available to organizations selected by the African Union office in Washington.

“Most of the time when they come they are always with the corporate people.  They don’t really take the Diaspora into account.  And, the thing is that the African Diaspora, especially continental Diaspora, is the most important constituency for the African presidents.  This is a constituency that sends $70 to $80 billion a year to Africa.  So, we are saying that they should be paying the same attention to us that they pay to all these corporate people who don’t contribute,” he said.

In his letter, Onyeani said the Diaspora was worried that the African leaders might ignore the Diaspora due to no fault of theirs while, at the same time, making themselves available to organizations such as the Corporate Council on Africa, which he says aims to profit from the African leaders’ visit.

“First of all, they are having a networking event on the 4th, which is $400 if you’re not a member of the Corporate Council.  And then, there’s a dinner for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, which is $200, and there’s one for Ghana’s president, which is $200, one for the Kenyan president, which is $200, and there is one which is exclusive only by invitation alone for President (Teodoro) Obiang (Nguema) of Equatorial Guinea,” Onyeani said.

Onyeani said all of these fees, plus $100 for a ministerial networking, amount to $1,300.

He said, while a lot of Africans in the Diaspora can afford the amount, they would prefer to remit that money back to Africa to support some the world’s fastest growing economies rather than pay to see their own presidents.

He admits Washington is a city where business or diplomatic deals are sometimes made over dinner.

“We are not saying they should not do it, but what we are saying is that at least they should devote one or two hours to getting together with the African Diaspora, whereby the ambassadors should fund such a meeting. We should not be asked to fund it,” he said.

Onyeani proposed to the leaders that African Union chairperson and Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, to organize an African Diaspora Town Hall meeting to be attended by five heads of state chosen by their peers and representing the five regions of Africa.

But, Onyeani said his proposal never materialized.

“I called the Mauritanian Ambassador so many times. I left messages for him. He never returned the call,” he said.

Onyeani said some of the issues that would have been discussed would have included legal recognition of the African Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the continent and an appreciation and encouragement by African leaders for the role the Diaspora is playing as the “largest investor in Africa’s economy.”

He said Africa needs an African Diaspora-centered president like former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

“When President Abdoulaye Wade would arrive in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings, while other African Presidents held their events in high-class expensive hotels like the Waldorf, his event would be held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on 135th and Malcolm X Blvd in Harlem,” Onyeani said in his second letter.

Butty interview with Onyeani
Butty interview with Onyeanii
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

 

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs